Manhole Monday: Shirahama

Winter is finally starting to set in here in Tokyo … sort of. It’s unseasonably warm this year, it seems, and snow is a laughable thought at this point in winter. That doesn’t stop us from heading out to Niigata this week in search of a little white powder and onsen.

Yes, hot spring hopping is one of my favorite pursuits in the cooler months and the manhole cover in this month’s post is from a trip I took last year to Wakayama Prefecture. I was supposed to be enjoying a three-day hike with good friend Felicity of Where Next Japan but the first two days of our trip were completely rained out.

Luckily, Felicity had once lived in Wakayama and had a list of onsen as long as her arm to suggest. Our first stop was in the seaside town of Shirahama. Shirahama is known for its geothermal onsen, especially one right on the edge of the ocean that has a high saline content (does wonders for the skin, actually!).

However, the most recognizable landform in town is what you see on the cover below:


The island with the “hole” in the middle of it is Engetsu. It’s one of the best places in the Kansai region to catch the sunset, especially when you can time it to see the sinking sun through the arch in the middle of the island.

Due to significant erosion, the local government cautions anyone from going too near the island anymore. But you can enjoy the scene from the white sand beach along the coast. Bring your picnic blanket and a bento and savor the view.

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